Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
Buy a signed copy of the book!
a signed
copy of the
book!
Get a 17 page
excerpt when you
join our mailing list!

Follow me on
Follow Jeanne Simonoff on TwitterFollow Jeanne Simonoff on Facebook
Jewish Childhood - Genevieve Asse - Pompidou and by the way.....
Saturday, 13 July 2013 16:50

I skipped something important I wanted to tell you. Monday night I went with a new friend to SPOKEN WORD: PARIS and read at the open mike. The call was for writing about dreams. My poem called: LIST POEM: I DREAMT OF HER. Four winners will be selected and their writing entry will appear in BASTILLE MAGAZINE, a literary magazine, in Paris. I will keep you posted on that.

I must have Amerino Gelato before going in to the Pompidou Center to view the paintings of Genevieve Asse. Since I had not heard of the painter before reading the previews for the exhibit, I Googled her. What I found was the following: "Peintues. One of the major artists of the French post war scene, 'painter of light and space;, now known as bleu Asse, the emblematic colour of this artist from Brittany. The exhibition is organized around a donation made by the artist to the Pompidou Centre in 2012, composed of eleven paintings executed between 1948 and 1999." 

So armed with this information I purchase my ticket and travel up the escalators where one can view Paris from the heights, and up to the 4th etage where I find what is to become a personal reframing of modernism and an introduction to a new friend.

When the critics speak of Asse as the "painter of light and space," I now have a better understanding for this type of art I have only visited but never lived there before. What is it that is so evocative of her: Essence. I find myself reminded of the work by Agnes Martin.

Asse studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs in Paris during Nazi occupied France. She was clearly influenced by Chardin, Cezanne and Braque.

She took a break in her painting to serve as an ambulance driver in the first armored division during the Liberation.

In her art, it appears that she is on a search for simplicity. Atmospheric vibrations of light, which I have experienced in Taos New Mexico as the sky changes in gradations of color, which can actually be seen. Large white canvases were inspired by light of the midi, the afternoon. Click here: Genevieve Asse - Wikipaintings.org

ASSE BLUE, became her name. Landscape fades away. She retains the essential, "Grey sun, streams of light beneath the ochres (...) Whites, vibrations of walls, cliffs, chalk and objects thrilling in half-wash through the light and the haze."

I continue to stare at these wonderful images, intrigued by the new language of sight through her eyes. I am moved by her comment: "I do not seek to make it visible; I seek to make it exist."

I am taken by her sketchbooks, which are being shown for the first time. There are two or three cases of these, small in scale, the kind of sketch book I use when traveling to capture thoughts, some sketches but mostly as she does "essence."

One of the beauties of this exhibit space is the large padded bench on which one can sit to contemplate what is being seen. It allows me to spend more time within the paintings and to dream of poems from which I can make my essence. What is said about her paintings is that one needs lengthy contemplation. "You need to immerse yourself in them body and soul, as in the space of a poem; to feel the color penetrating the canvass; to sense with the eye the line that opens out to the painting in terms of depth; to wander around pictures that rise like 'Stele" and together define a place for her art."

Her sketchbooks run from the late 60s on. In these she introduces the color red "with greater boldness”. I wish I had more energy at the time to spend with these books.

Asse has also done illustrations for the works of writers, Samuel Beckett, Yves Bonnefoy, Francis Ponge, and Jorge Louis Borges. They express the appearance of the world as a poet: "Behind the horizon, the dawn, shaded grays, transparent blue-black ultramarines, whites that disappear into the grain of the canvas, nothing from the exterior except for time." Genevieve Asse working Notes 1974.

I will continue to pay homage to Asse just as I have to Agnes Martin. The difference in my writing between poetry and prose is in poetry it comes down to essence, imagist in some cases. I offer you this haiku to honor this artist:

Strip away doubt

Suspend belief.

Bleu Asse                 

Thank you for reading my Jewish Childhood Blog.  Please, stay in touch.